Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Overnight $uccess

If you knew anything you wrote would be published and successful, what would you write?

By Dietrich Kalteis

Doing what you love is anybody’s best shot at success. And I love sitting at my desk and making stuff up. And I don’t think any of us can predict what’s going to be a best-seller. I know if I tried to write what I guessed would sell, rather than writing what I loved to write about, it would be crap.

Okay, it sounds corny, but it’s the best thing in the world to get to do what I love every day, and that’s success in it itself. And if money follows, then that’s even better. Who’d turn it down? 

For most of us, it’s more of a slow grind than instant success. So, anytime I need a shot of perseverance, I recall that J.K. Rowlings was turned down a dozen times on the road to becoming the first author billionaire, Stephen King’s first novel Carrie was rejected thirty times, and Elmore Leonard’s The Big Bounce was bounced back over eighty times. The New York Times ran an article about him some years ago, the headline: Writer discovered after 23 novels. 

Writing every day is my best shot at standing out in a crowded field. And that need to write is an in-the-blood kind of thing. Being able to stay focused and positive helps, so does not thinking about success or the lack of it. And almost as important is reading and being inspired and influenced by great books.

And speaking of great books, since the Holidays are rushing up, I’ve listed some of the crime novels that I’ve read over the past year which stood out. As I’m writing this I just finished my friend Sam Wiebe’s second novel Invisible Dead, and I can tell you the guy writes like a champ. Then there’s Black Orchid Blues by Persia Walker, a bright and funny book. The Force by Don Winslow had to be the best-paced novel I read all year, and Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen had to be the funniest. Also very funny and well done (and Canadian) are No Fury Like That by Lisa de Nikolits or One Brother Shy by Terry Fallis. 

I reread a couple of crime classics that stand the test of time, ones that I’d highly recommend: Miami Blues, from 1984, and New Hope for the Dead by Charles Willeford, published 1985, and The Moonshine War by Elmore Leonard, published 1969. As much as I enjoyed Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels, I started his Jesse Stone novels and I loved Trouble in Paradise, the second in the series, published in 1999.

All the best to everyone over the Holidays.


RJ Harlick said...

Great post, Dietrich. We are of like minds.

Unknown said...

I always find your down-to-earth, no-BS advice inspiring, Dietrich.
More-time-to-read is on my 2018 wish list.

Susan C Shea said...

You're so right. Lately, getting to write every day has been hard and I yearn for it. Rich and famous is (probably) wonderful, but getting published, getting a bit of fan praise, and having a writing day 'in the zone' is wonderful too. And thanks for the earlier post's tip about Persia Walker's Black Orchid Blues. It's on the TBR stack right now.

Robert Mackay said...

Dietrich, a terrific post. As I've heard before, and as reinforced by you: read, read, read; write, write, write; repeat.